Reaching 50 years in business is a major milestone for any company — especially one that boasts such a rich family history such as Falkirk-based James Scott & Sons Kitchen Equipment (JSSKE).
The dealer was founded in 1972 by Jim Scott, who led the business right up to his passing in 2015. In the wake of his loss, the baton was passed to his two sons, Stuart and Martin. Stuart serves as the managing director, while Martin is the chairman.
Duties between them are divided by commercial and technical functions, with Stuart managing the sales and cash flow side of things while Martin oversees the company’s fabrication facility and services drawings.
Furthermore the third generation of Scotts is making its way up the company, as Martin’s eldest son Christopher is the project director, dealing with site management and coordinating services and installs.
“We continue to pride ourselves on living up to my father’s values and what he taught us,” says Stuart, who has spent 38 years at the company his father started.
“We remain ‘old school’ — basically be good to your word and if we make a mistake we fix it. If you say you’re going to do something then you do it. It keeps you in high regard and people come back — you can build up relationships with them. We’ve got a lot of great customers so we must be doing something right!”
To have such longevity, the company distinguishes itself by being the only distributor in Scotland capable of offering both full kitchen installations and its own-in house fabrications.
Stuart underlines: “Other companies do projects but they don’t manufacture their own stainless steel items, which we still do. I think that’s a big plus for us, because we have total control over lead and manufacturing times, whereas if you buy from somebody else you’re at their mercy.”
Items crafted in-house include counters, hot units and full carcasses and Corian worktops. But in light of the recent skyrocketing raw material costs, how is James Scott & Sons coping? “We work on consignment stock for the sheet steel, so I buy six months in advance — I had six months’ worth sitting on the floor when the prices started to go up. I’ve ordered for another six months before it goes too high, but we’re not doing too badly.”
To both celebrate the big anniversary and look to the future, JSSKE is updating its branding. Stuart explains: “The rebrand is to make the image more modern and we have changed from blue to silver to replicate stainless steel and highlight that we still have the manufacturing facility.”
In the four decades that Stuart has been with the company, he has seen increasing technological advances in the production side of things, moving from traditional manual skills to CNC machinery.
But for kitchens themselves, he evaluates: “There are newer, fancier products that are computer controlled, and changes in technology, but the principles are still the same: store, cook, eat and wash the dishes!”
He also notes that electric and induction cooking ranges are more prevalent now, as operators continue to ramp up their sustainability focus.
In terms of typical customer sectors, the dealer has traditionally worked in the public sector, but is increasingly supplementing this with hotels, care homes, garden centres and visitor attractions over the last few years.
“We are still primarily a public sector-style business, because that’s where much of the money is spent in Scotland,” says Stuart. Over the years, the team has numbered around 40 staff, with the current roster just below that total. This includes three people in the drawing office, three in customer services, a further trio in estimating and sales, three in administration and accounts, and about 20 in production and installation.
On the supply side of things, the distributor favours nearby Falcon Foodservice Equipment for prime cooking. “If anybody asks us for cooking equipment we’ll always lead with Falcon, we’re very loyal,” says Stuart.
Other brands the dealer works with include Lincat and Middleby UK, Rational for combi ovens, Williams or Foster for refrigeration, Counterline, CED or Moffat for refrigerated displays, and Smeg for single tank dishwashers, with Meiko or Hobart for larger systems.
So what attributes does JSSKE seek in its partners? “We look for them to be fair and supportive, to help us out with a wee bit extra, as well as providing back-up and making sure there’s good service for the end-user,” says Stuart. “It’s about quality products and doing the warranty work for us.”
Geographically, 95% of the company’s projects are located in Scotland, stretching from Shetland to the borders, and even reaching to Orkney, where this month it will be fitting out a care home kitchen. Any work south of the border usually originates from companies in Scotland.
Recent investments include bolstering the firm’s BIM software expertise and carrying out further BIM training for the drawing office with a CAD company, especially important as BIM is becoming more prevalent on the public sector projects that the dealer is taking on. Furthermore, JSSKE has created a new drawing office manager position this year.
Stuart concludes: “We are quite proud to get to 50 years — there are not many in the sector that do that. But we also need to look forward and try and change as technology changes. We hope to be here for another 50 years, so we’ll see what happens!”
James Scott & Sons Kitchen Equipment regularly works alongside a number of key suppliers, including:
– Falcon Foodservice Equipment
– Foster Refrigerator
– Pentland Wholesale